23 March- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national lockdown.
He explained the next days are crucial without decisive action, the number of people infected will rapidly increase from a few hundred to tens of thousands, and within a few weeks to hundreds of thousands. This is extremely dangerous for a population like ours, with a large number of people with suppressed immunity because of HIV and TB, and high levels of poverty and malnutrition.
We have learnt a great deal from the experiences of other countries.
Those countries that have acted swiftly and dramatically have been far more effective in controlling the spread of the disease.
As a consequence, the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to enforce a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday 26 March 2020.
This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save
the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater.
The nation-wide lockdown will be enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act
and will entail the following:
- From midnight on Thursday 26 March until midnight on Thursday 16 April, all
South Africans will have to stay at home.
- Temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards will be identified
for homeless people. Sites are also being identified for quarantine and self-
isolation for people who cannot self-isolate at home.
- All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories,
banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets,
petrol stations and health care providers.
Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods
and medical supplies will remain open.
We will publish a full list of the categories of businesses that should remain open.
Companies whose operations require continuous processes such as furnaces,
underground mine operations will be required to make arrangements for care and
maintenance to avoid damage to their continuous operations.
Firms that are able to continue their operations remotely should do so.
- Provision will be made for essential transport services to continue, including
transport for essential staff and for patients who need to be managed elsewhere.
The nation-wide lockdown is necessary to fundamentally disrupt the chain of transmission across society.
Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled
circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other
supplies or collect a social grant.